Posted by: atowhee | May 26, 2017


I led a field trip for Klamath Bird Observatory into Oregon’s southern Cascades today.  Nature was at her most ebullient.  Early on we saw one Sandhill Crane dancing in Howard Prairie’s grassland while two companions walked away. Amidst blooms of blue and yellow.  The wildflower spectrum ran from creamy white Indian plum to purple larkspur.

A pair of adult Great Gray Owls were seen in one meadow near Howard Prairie Lake. Osprey, Bald Eagles, White Pelican, grunting Double-crested Cormorant, Spotted Sandpipers with their breeding spots, two White-headed Woodpeckers delivering food to nestlings inside their nest hole.  Our warblers of the day: Hermit, Audubon’s and MacGillivray’s.  Warbling Vireo.  Little Hyatt Lake: Dippers, family of four, your log along the shore is ready now.  Kingfisher, House Wren singing, Western Tanager male brighter than the sun itself, Purple Finch, Vesper Sparrow, Western and Mountain Bluebird in Hyatt Meadow. Looking up from the male Mountain the sky itself looked washed out. Green-tailed Towhee who serenaded us from a perch less than 3 feet above the earth.  Male Lazuli Bunting. Singing Purple Finch in treetops, heard but unseen.

Posted by: atowhee | May 23, 2017


I suggest you copy out this article before the Trumpistas have expunged it from the Internet:

Slowly the new political censors are removing climate change material from federal websites but much still remains in out of the way corners, so copy out your favorites before they vanish for not meeting the Republican definition of truth.

Click here for good summary of how the Trumpistas are changing federal websites.  Reported by a British newspaper, of course.

Click here for info on Center for Biological Diversity’s lawsuit to stop censorship of government science and websites.


Posted by: atowhee | May 23, 2017


This morning at Joe Dancer Park the dog and I met a Song Sparrow, who energetically lived up to his name.  He was singing from the top of a young ash tree in the wetlands section of the park.  We also found a shade-loving male Spotted Towhee there.Songstrst shade

Mid-day I ate lunch outside.  Here in town there is the eternal, infernal, internal combustion engine noise.  But beyond that, and in-between cars, the predominant bird song is from the Eurasian Collared-Dove.  Ten years ago that would have been a new sound here.   Twenty years ago I was in Louisiana and there saw my first one in the U.S.  The collared-dove arrived on its own wings in Florida less than forty years ago and now has conquered the land.  They have spread continent-wide far faster than previous introduced birds like House Sparrow or starling.  They have moved across the land faster than primates, be they European colonizers or the previous First Peoples from Siberia. Today the collared-dive can be found almost anywhere man has trees, shrubs and buildings.  They do not like agricultural monocultures as starlings do but hew to towns, cities, suburbs and farmsteads.  You won’t encounter them in the middle of a hay field or vineyard but they may often appear in your dogwood or apple tree, or perched atop your lilac bush.  Like scrub-jays, blackbirds and starlings there are great wire sitters.  Their density now seems to be as great in towns as that of robins or swallows.  And their cooing calls are the #1 bird sound during much of the day.

FLORAcowsnipIMG_7058salsThe cow parsnip at the top of this section is a native, and one of our more robust.  Some will 7-8 feet tall by the end of summer.  In the carrot family, its seeds are appreciated by finches.  The bottom flower is of the salsify, one of our more attractive introduced weeds with its four-inch wide flowers. In the middle is a typical cluster of Draba verna, also an introduced weed.  It likes open wet places and is in the mustard family.

Posted by: atowhee | May 23, 2017


The sun is up, the temp is too, over 80.  One owlet is doing gular panting.  They are getting big enough that the larger ones will leave the nest soon.  Nice day in Montana mountains:

Posted by: atowhee | May 23, 2017


Build it and they will come.  That worked fine for Kevin Costner in the movie “Field of Dreams.”  And it just worked for Caltrans, bird conservationists and Double-crested Cormorants at the new section of the Bay Bridge.

Posted by: atowhee | May 22, 2017


Here some exciting shots from my friends, Shannon Rio and Kirk Gooding…many in Jackson, Klamath and Siskiyou Counties (technically a part of California still).SH-CRNCrane couple above, Cinnamon couple below:SH-CTSH-EGLSGolden Eagle in flight:SH-GEGreat Horned Owlets on osprey platform put to another use. Canada Geese also will seize a platform and not relinquish it to the osprey…have you ever argued with a parent Canada Goose?SH-GHOSH-MARMMarmot above, his deadly nemesis below:shrn ghoSavannah Sparrow celebrates a spring bath:SH-SAV2SH-SAV3SH-SAVWETSage Thrasher:SH-STTricolored Blackbird:SH-TRICSH-WFIIbis above, Wilson’s Phalarope in the water, Whimbrels on shore.SH-WILSH-WIL2SH-WIL3Willet in foreground, blackbird stage left.SH-WILLGuess my name!SH-YHBMACG--KGMacGillivray’s above, very hard bird to even spot, much less photograph…our generic male ducks belowMALS--KGSONG-KGSPTO-KGSTRL--KGWilson’s Warbler, nominally related to the phalarope above.WIWA-KG

Posted by: atowhee | May 22, 2017


By this time of spring most of our wintering ducks are gone, except for those social misfits who stay past the migration deadline set by natural hormones and seasonal changes…today we found five lingering ducks at Yamhill Sewer Ponds–three Bufflehead and two male Shovelers.

There was a tight flotilla of Canada Geese: three sets of parents and three gosling groups of varied sizes, about thirty altogether.  House Sparrows and Tree Swallows seemed to have moved into many of the nest boxes along the sewer pond fences.  No Violet-green in view.

There was music in the air: Red-winged Blackbirds and Black-headed Grosbeaks were tuned up and sounding off at Yamhill.  Later at Wennerberg Park we heard more grosbeaks and lots of whispering from the Yellow Warblers, finally we heard the thin wheezy call of the Western Wood-Pewee and managed to locate a couple, in the treetops, as usual.  I suspect the Wennerberg sapsuckers have young, one adult Red-breasted landed on a tree just a few feet from us, closest I’ve ever been to that species.  The bird was focused on food-gathering and ignored us.  Foolishly I forgot my camera.

Yamhill Sewage Ponds (restricted access), Yamhill, Oregon, US
May 22, 2017 10:20 AM – 11:00 AM.  17 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  40     mostly goslings, three families clumped together
Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)  5
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  X
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)  2
Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)  3
Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)  10
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  X
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  2
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)  40
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)  2
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  1
Bewick’s Wren (Thryomanes bewickii)  1
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  X
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  X
Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus)  X
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  50     singing

Wennerberg Park, Carlton, OR, Yamhill, Oregon, US
May 22, 2017 11:10 AM – 11:50 AM.  18 species

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)  1
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)  1
Red-breasted Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus ruber)  1
Western Wood-Pewee (Contopus sordidulus)  2
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  1
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)  X
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)  X
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  3
Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus)  2
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  X
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)  30
Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia)  6
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  2
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  X
Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus)  X
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  X
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)  X

Posted by: atowhee | May 21, 2017


Imagine you’re a fair-sized hawk.  Further imagine you have hungry teenagers to feed.  It’s a bright, sunny day and you’re hanging out near afield that often yields up a rodent or even a snake when the sun is warm. You need to catch and deliver. You generally ignore the small birds in the same field. But it’s never that simple.

That blackbird flew several attacks on the Red-tail.  Earlier this week I saw three Crows driving a Cooper’s Hawk from one perch to another.  The Coop is at least a direct threat as he’s a bird-eater.  There’s no way the Red-tail could catch a blackbird or get to its nest, but a raptor is a raptor in birdland.

This Acorn Woodpecker was at Wennerberg Park, rn1ac rn2Along Westside Road just south of Carlton is this great, old barn.  Kudos to the owners who maintain it so well while many barns of similar vintage are abandoned or left to tumble down.  None of these old barns really fit modern farming with its penchant for huge machines, gigantic hay bails and pole barns of metal.  But here the owners persist.swllo barnAnd even better is the fact that they let the Cliff Swallow colony flourish under the barn’s eavesP:swll-aswll-bswll-cswll-dswll-eWhile I was photographing the swallows I noticed a glimmer of sheep smarts…evidence that not all canards about their stupidity should be believed.  Young sheep using a living step ladder to reach tree limbs, and the stolid old ram allowing such use:sheep co-op

Nut to you, Mr. Squirrel.  Peanuts to be exact:sqr-asqr-b

Wild rose:ross.JPGWennerberg Park, Carlton, OR, Yamhill, Oregon, US
May 21, 2017 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM
19 species

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)  1
Vaux’s Swift (Chaetura vauxi)  2
Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna)  1
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)  1
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  1
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  2
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  X
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)  4
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)  1
Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus)  1
Swainson’s Thrush (Catharus ustulatus)  1
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  X
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia)  X
Wilson’s Warbler (Cardellina pusilla)  X
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  X
Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus)  X
Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus)  X
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  X

Posted by: atowhee | May 20, 2017


For once I wish Trump could be right about something, but climate change is happening despite his tweets to the contrary.  Now we learn that climate change has endangered a supposedly safe vault for storage of crucial seeds, in case of environmental calamity. We primates aren’t half as clever as we pretend to be. Nature bats last.

Posted by: atowhee | May 19, 2017

The young Great Gray Owls seen on nestcam from Montana are starting to get mottled, adult-looking feathers.  They’ll be fledging soon and disappear from the next forever. The largest will go first.

You can check on their progress here:

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